The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Building Future Skills in Higher Education: An International Blended Project Seminar on Sustainable Development

Patricia Arnold, HM Hochschule München University of Applied Sciences (Germany)

Jeannet Davids, Hanse University of Applied Sciences Groningen (The Netherlands)

Meret Reiser, Zurich University of Applied Sciences (Switzerland)


In the 21st century, higher education faces a multitude of challenges. Study programs need to contribute to solving the complex issues around sustainable development our societies urgently need to deal with on a global scale. On the one hand, this implies that study programs should integrate education for sustainable development into their teaching whatever the core domain of the program may be [1]. On the other hand, study programs should enable students to acquire so called future skills. UNESCO defines future skills broadly as skills required to create a sustainable future for our entire world [2]. These skills include, amongst others, non-domain specific skills such as self-initiative, autonomous learning competence, creativity, digital literacy, ambiguity tolerance as well as cooperation and communications skills [3]. At the same time, higher education needs to capitalize on new learning and teaching formats, brought about by widespread digitalization. These formats enhance flexibility of time and location and thus cater to broader target groups than the traditional student groups. Yet another desideratum for higher education is internationalization so that students adopt an international world citizen perspective on their specific domains. Against this backdrop, we present a case study that describes and analyzes an innovative educational design that strives to contribute to all goals mentioned above. In a collaborative approach, 11 European universities created an international seminar on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 60-80 students from different study programs of the participating universities. The seminar is held in a blended-learning format, i.e. it combines online learning phases with on-site short term mobility days in one of the participating countries. Core element of the educational design is the deliberately open task of sketching out a project proposal to reach one or more of the SDGs. Students work on this project task in international multidisciplinary teams, collaborating first online and then sharing their work on-site. The authors are part of the international team of lecturers who are developing this seminar. For our reflection and analysis, we use meeting notes during the development process, student and lecturer evaluation data as well as evaluative discussions. Our results can inform higher education decision-makers and educational designers alike.



Higher education, education for sustainable development, educational designs, blended learning, future skills 



  1. Lewis, A.L., Trechsel, L., Zimmermann, A. (2023) Monitoring the integration of Sustainable Development into higher education teaching: a collaborative learning approach. zfhe 18(4), 61-76.
  2. UNESCO (2014). UNESCO Roadmap for Implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development. Paris: UNESCO.
  3. Ehlers, U., Kellermann, S. (2019) Future Skills - The Future of Learning and Higher Education. Results of the International Future Skills Delphi Survey. Karlsruhe: dhbw.


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